Ohio Becomes the 24th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

On November 7, 2023, Ohio voters passed a measure to legalize recreational marijuana. The state now joins 23 other states, two territories and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

The approved ballot measure, commonly referred to as “Issue 2,” will allow adults over the age of 21 to buy, possess and grow marijuana as of December 7, 2023.  It is important to note that Issue 2 was a citizen-led initiative, which means lawmakers have the authority to change some of the language in the coming months.  Once finalized, the law will be captured in a new chapter of the Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 3780.

Ohio’s longstanding medical marijuana program will remain in effect.

What does this mean for the Ohio Employer?

The new law is not expected to significantly impact the workplace. Ohio employers are not required to permit or accommodate an employee’s use, possession, or distribution of recreational marijuana. Employers may still refuse to hire, discharge, discipline or otherwise take an adverse employment action against an individual because of that individual’s use, possession, or distribution of recreational marijuana. Employers may continue to establish and enforce drug testing policies, drug-free workplace policies, or zero-tolerance policies. Furthermore, if an employer terminates an employee because of that individual’s recreational marijuana use in violation of the employer’s policy, the employee will be considered to have been discharged for just cause. Continue reading

The State of the Law Regarding Marijuana and Drug Testing [Webinar Recording]

On Tuesday, July 18th, Dan Deacon and Ashley Mitchell presented a webinar covering The State of the Law Regarding Marijuana and Drug Testing.

Recreational and medicinal marijuana are here to stay. Each year, it seems that several new jurisdictions legalize marijuana use in some form and momentum continues to build for change on the federal level. As such, it appears to be only a matter of time before marijuana is legalized throughout the entire country. However, with these changes comes the potential for more employees to be under the influence of both legal and illegal drugs at the workplace. So, what can employers do to maintain a safe workplace? What restrictions are there for testing employees for drug use? Can employers really impose a drug-free workplace policy considering these seemingly pro-marijuana laws?

This webinar explored the changing legal landscape concerning marijuana, analyze potential issues related to zero-tolerance policies and review tips for developing effective drug testing policies that will comply with fair employment laws as well as OSHA regulations.

Participants in this webinar learned: Continue reading

Mid-Year Employment Updates in DC, Maryland, and Virginia

We are mid-way through 2023, and there have been several changes to the employment laws in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia that employers need to take note of.  All of these laws, which were passed in 2022 or the more recent 2023 legislative sessions, went into effect on July 1, 2023, including amendments to minimum wage laws, leave laws, marijuana laws, and laws related to nondisclosure, confidentiality, and non-disparagement agreements.  Below is an overview of some of the key changes that employers need to carefully analyze to ensure existing employment policies and practices are up to date.

District of Columbia

Minimum Wage Hike. Beginning on July 1, 2023, DC minimum wage increased from $16.50 per hour to $17 per hour.  Tipped workers will see their base wage increase from $6 per hour to $8 per hour, and if their tips don’t bring their total hourly earnings up to $17 per hour overall, their employer needs to make up the difference.

Recreational Cannabis Use Protection in Effect.  Under the DC Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022, which went into effect on July 1, 2023, employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee’s recreational cannabis use, participation in D.C. or another state’s medical cannabis program, or failure to pass an employer-required or requested cannabis drug test.  In simple terms, employers are prohibited from terminating, suspending, demoting, refusing to hire, failing to promote, or otherwise penalizing an employee for cannabis use, but there are two notable exceptions: Continue reading